A cataract is a cloudy area in the normally clear lens in the front of the eye. Cataracts are caused by a chemical change of unknown origin in the eye, and cause blurred or distorted vision. They cannot be prevented from forming, but early detection through regular eye exams can help maintain the clearest vision possible.
People at risk for developing cataracts are over 55 years old, have had eye injuries or disease, have a family history of cataracts, smoke cigarettes or use certain medications. There is no pain associated with the condition, but there are several symptoms that indicate failing vision due to cataracts. These include:
- Blurred/hazy vision
- Spots in front of the eye(s)
- Sensitivity to glare
- A feeling of “film” over the eye(s)
- A temporary improvement in near vision
Vision loss from cataracts can initially be corrected with prescription glasses or contact lenses. For people who are significantly affected by cataracts, replacement surgery may be the preferred method of treatment. During cataract replacement, the most common surgical procedure in the country, the lens is removed and replaced with an artificial one called an intraocular lens or IOL.